Pork Balchao

Pork Balchao2

Summer is upon us and it is time for a delicious picnic meal, Pork Balchao Sandwiches. Personally, this is one of my favorite meals.  It makes a great item on its own, and it is even better as a sandwich. It is a slightly sweet and acidic braised pork dish.

I have seen a ton of different versions of pork balchao, but I think it is from Goa, in India. For our version, we will start with caramelized onions. Make sure they are very well caramelized, as they will become the sauce and if they are not cooked well, they won’t fall apart. For the spices, my rule is spices starting with the letter C; cumin, chilies, cinnamon, cloves, coriander etc… It seems to me any mix of spices sticking to that rule works out very well! As for the meat, I like using pork shoulder, since it is so flavorful, but pork roast will work as well if you prefer a leaner meal. Either way, there’s no need to trim anything but the largest pieces of fat, as the fat will help make the sauce and add a lot of flavor.

It is important you cook this over very low heat for a very long time. If you try to rush it by raising the heat, it gets dry and tough instead of falling apart tender. The perfect temperature is just below simmering, where the surface is steaming but not bubbling. A low simmer works just as well; you basically want the liquid around 200 degrees.

To make the pork balchao into a sandwich, I just put it on toasted bread with some cheese and quick pickles. No need for a spread like mayo or mustard, as the meat is flavorful enough as is. If you want to serve it as a main dish instead, I recommend it with rice and a vegetable side.

This recipe will make 3-4 sandwiches or 2 dinner servings.


1 onion, sliced thin

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp chili, such as cayenne

½ tsp salt

1 lb cubed pork shoulder or roast

¼ c water or broth

2Tbsp apple cider vinegar

2Tbsp sugar


1)      In a medium pot, caramelize the onion well.

2)      Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

3)      Add in the ingredients from cinnamon through pork and stir well.

4)      Pour in the water or broth and bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer.

5)      Cover and let cook for 20 minutes.

6)      Uncover and let cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally until the pork falls apart.

7)      Pour in the vinegar and sugar.

8)      Cook for 2 more minutes or until the sauce thickens.

9)      Adjust the vinegar, sugar and salt as needed.

10)   Serve and Enjoy!

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